ACUADS, The Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools is the leading body for the university visual arts, crafts and design disciplines. We play an active role in shaping quality education for artists and designers. ACUADS represents over thirty Australian university art and design faculties, schools and departments and other academic units offering university degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The organisation addresses social, economic and cultural policies and discourses affecting the sector.

2023 Conference: Thriving Futures

In 2018, a study for the World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs Report 2020, projected that by 2022 ‘analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, creativity, originality and initiative’ would be three of the most important skills for the global workforce. This agenda has been highly influential for education policy in the intervening years, for example in the proliferation of STEAM approaches to teaching, learning and research. Understood as an interdisciplinary approach, a role of the creative arts and design was seemingly to bring ‘creativity’ to the wider tertiary sector through an ‘interdisciplinary imagination’ for the benefit of industry and, ultimately, society.   

This conference revisits the purpose and potential of Art & Design in 2023. Creative practitioners have always looked outwards but today they are increasingly mobile, crossing traditional delineations to engage not just with diverse media and methodologies, but ever more disparate disciplinary fields of practice and influence. The global pandemic was a further disruptor that generated unprecedented innovation in creative fields, out of necessity. This in turn catalysed a re-evaluation of the assumed outcomes of creative education and research; foregrounding skills such as collaboration, communication, empathy and ethics – so-called ‘soft skills’ that, in conjunction with innovation and imagination, now appear more important than ever.   

The value of creative practice has also emerged from the pandemic in a ‘new’ light. As the National Cultural Policy begins to acknowledge, rather than prioritising economic drivers as the primary rationale for creative education and research, the inherent social value of culture, care and community is perhaps now better understood. Beyond providing an ‘interdisciplinary imagination’ that applies the arts in service of other disciplines and industries, we find renewed purpose and potential in the ‘public labour’ creative practice has always performed.   

Drawing on our unique Australian perspective, with particular acknowledgement of First Nations knowledge and ways of being, this conference will consider how creative education and research can contribute not only to economies but also to the array of pressing social, environmental and cultural issues to enable thriving futures.  

ACUADS has accepted paper and presentation proposals which respond to the following prompts: 

  • How has the global pandemic disrupted and catalysed innovation in creative art education? What now are the key agendas for Art & Design schools?
  • How can creative education and research embrace our unique Australian perspective and integrate First Nations knowledges to cultivate a ‘thriving future’?
  • What is the potential of creative research and pedagogy in responding to the Climate Crisis?
  • What are the key issues affecting the wellbeing of art & design staff and students? How might they be addressed? What role can Art & Design play in relation to societal wellbeing?



All the papers published will be subject to a process of double-blind peer review at both the submission of a conference abstract (acceptance into the conference); and, after the conference, when papers will be formally submitted for final review prior to publication.  All papers will be eligible for publication, via the ACUADS website.

In addition: selected papers from the conference will be considered for publication in a special edition of the journal Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education (ISSN 1474273X, ONLINE ISSN 20400896). 

This peer-reviewed journal aims to inform, stimulate and promote the development of research in the field by providing a forum for debate arising from findings as well as theory and methodologies. The title is indexed with Scopus and the Web of Science’s Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI). For more information, visit the Discover platform here.

The guest-edited ACUADS issue will ask: what are the challenges of learning and teaching in art, design and communication from a uniquely Australian perspective? Topics and papers from the 2023 conference will form the basis for a survey of the key issues for Australian Creative Arts Higher Education.


The identity design and website for the 2033 ACUADS Thriving Futures conference were created by UniSA Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) students Georgia Sandford and Hannah Cauchi, with the guidance of lecturer Martina Budimir.

In association with DDCA – The Australian Council of Deans and Directors of Creative Arts